Music Together - Review

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From birth to age 7, Music Together is an internationally recognized music program based on the concept that all children are musical. Their philosophy is that young children learn best when taught by the parent, teacher, or caregiver that is actively making music and participating in spontaneous musical activity at home.  
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As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I have been reviewing the award winning Music Together Family Favorites CD & Songbook Combo for several weeks now. 

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Right now, if you order this Cd and Songbook combo (instead of buying the CD and songbook separately) you can save $5 off of the $39.95 purchase price. If you order from the Music together online store, you can save an additional $2! When you purchase the combo, enter the coupon code "Schoolhouse" at check out.

If you are interested in a preview of the songs, or would like to download the album, please visit this Music Together webpage


My experience with the Music Together music curriculum:

It took several tries to get my 4 & 1/2 year old son to even pay attention to the songs or the music. We started out by playing the songs from the songbook on my piano. Mr. B just wanted me to hurry up and finish so he could do something else. My 2 year old was a bit more interested as she likes to sit next to my on the piano bench while I play. But, it wasn't long before she tired of the music as well. A couple of days later, I put the music CD in our player in the living room. It wasn't exactly a hit and my son kept asking me to turn it off. I decided to wait a few more days before trying it again. When I did, I chose a different time of day for our music time and I took a different approach this time. I made a big deal out of the shakers we made (with empty bottles and rice) for a few minutes prior to starting the CD. My 2 year old was very excited and couldn't wait for the music to start. She liked hearing her name used in the "Hello Song" but her absolute favorite is the "Biddy Biddy" song (as you can see from the picture below!).


She had a few others that she wanted to listen to over and over again like the "Stick Tune", "Ridin' in the Car", and "Dancing with Teddy" but there were also some songs that scared her. My son briefly became interested when he saw that Baby C had "drum sticks" (actually, they were chopsticks but they served their purpose well) but he soon lost interest.

My 2 year old, with her shoes on the wrong feet, having fun with the "Stick Tune".

I have kept trying to entice my son to join in on the fun, but I have just about come to the conclusion that this program just isn't for him. The more my daughter hears the songs, the more she seems to like them and she never tires of beating the sticks on things. Since using this curriculum, I have noticed her singing around the house more, humming, making nonsense verses up while she is singing, and playing "music" on things. She still tends to like the same songs and wants me to skip over others (especially the "One Little Owl" song). I plan on continuing to use this CD for our music time once or twice a week for the time being, and will play it by ear as to how long we will keep it up. 

I think that this program has excellent potential for children and families with special needs as it allows the student to participate at their own level and to do as much or as little as they feel comfortable with. 

You can find Music Together on Facebook! If you need more information or have questions, visit their website at www.musictogether.com, call them at 800-728-2692 or write to them:

Music Together
66 Witherspoon Street
Princeton, NJ 08542




It's That Time of the Year Again: Pumpkin Fudge!

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Last fall I discovered an awesome Pumpkin Fudge recipe on Pinterest! The original recipe can be found at http://www.recipegirl.com/2008/08/28/pumpkin-fudge/
but I altered it to the recipe below. We actually forgot to add the butter in the first batch and liked it better but I've included directions with butter and without! I can't to make some more!


Ingredients for 3 lbs:

3 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk

1/2 cup canned pure unsweetened pumpkin
2 TBSP light corn syrup
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
One 12-ounce bag white chocolate chips
One 7 oz jar marshmallow cream
1 cup chopped pecan, toasted (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract

(I added the pecans without toasting them and next time I make it I think I am going to add 1 & 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice.)

Directions:

Calls for lining a 9" square pan with aluminum foil & spray with nonstick spray but I just sprayed a cookie sheet (like a jelly roll pan) with nonstick spray.

Stir together first 5 ingredients in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until it forms a soft ball when dropped in water. This took me about 15 minutes.

Once mixture reaches soft ball stage, remove from heat and quickly stir in the white chocolate chips, marshmallow cream, pecans, and vanilla until blended well.

Pour into pan and let stand until completely cool, and cut. I used my pizza cutter to cut it and it worked great!

This is the batch that we forgot the butter and we like it much better without it that WITH the butter.

WITH BUTTER:

For the 2nd batch, we added 3/4 cups melted butter to the recipe above and only 10oz of white chocolate candy coating (we were out of white chocolate chips) and 1 & 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice. This made a creamier fudge. We also left the nuts out of this batch.

Ghost Buddy #2- Mind If I Read Your Mind? ~Book Review



Until recently, I had no idea that Henry Winkler (best-known for his acting role as "the Fonz" on Happy Days) was a Best-Selling author or that he even wrote children's book at all. The new Ghost Buddy series follows the popular Hank Zipzer series, which was inspired by Mr. Winkler's own true life experiences, and are both co-authored by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver


Synopsis:

It's time for Moorepark Middle School's annual Speak Out Challenge, and Billy Broccoli thinks he's got it made. With his best friend Hoover Porterhouse—the ghost with the most—by his side, Billy’s got the competition in the bag. Who wouldn't vote for a demonstration on mind reading?

But when Billy lands a spot on the sixth-grade team, he starts spending more time with his new teammates than he does with Hoover. And the Hoove plays second fiddle to no one! If Billy's not careful, his secret weapon might just vanish into thin air, leaving Billy to pick up the pieces of a demonstration-day disaster!”   




I found both Ghost Buddy #1 - Zero to Hero and Ghost Buddy #2 Mind If I Read Your Mind to be funny and entertaining with good plots and interesting characters. Who wouldn't love a main character by the name of Billy Broccoli? I liked how some important issues were addressed (such as bullying, honesty, and friendship to name a few) and the manner in which the problems and issues were resolved. Winkler and Oliver make a wonderful writing team!

The books in this series are written for ages 8-12 and the Teacher's Guide is geared towards grades 3-7. This surprised me a bit as I felt the Ghost Buddy series was written more for 7 to 10 year old children. Neither of my 12 year old twins were interested in reading the books, but they are exactly the kind of fiction they would have loved when they were 9 or 10 years old. 

If you are looking for a good read for your child, I definitely recommend checking this series out! More titles are coming in 2013!  


Family Time Fitness Review


I know this sounds bad, but physical exercise is not something that I really think about. Having fibromyalgia myself, I'm not very active although I do go through phases of walking several miles daily on my treadmill and on occasion, I will take a walk down the road with two of my younger children. One of my twins plays softball in the spring and loves to ride her bike and once in a while, her brother will get out there with her but for the most part he is not very active. My two littlest ones play outside, doing things that most 2 and 4 year olds do and they love to go to the park. That is as structured as we get. Now, my oldest daughter (who is 14) is another story. She LOVES physical activity. When my treadmill is not being used as a clothes rack, she will jog on it. She does ballet, pilates, yoga, loves riding her brand new bike, walks or jogs around the track at the park, and I'm sure I'm still leaving something out! 
My daughter jumping rope in her sock feet.

It wasn't until I received the Fitness 4 Homeschool - Core 1 Physical Education K-8 Curriculum that I really thought about the fact that no matter how much unstructured physical activity my children were getting, there were still muscles not getting the workout that they needed to keep their bodies strong and healthy and about how it might affect their attitude about exercise as they grow older. 


I also did not realize the full extent of the benefits of exercise on brain activity! Wow!


Family Time Fitness is offering this award winning curriculum for the new web price of $57.00 and includes:

  • Start-up guide
  • PDF lesson plans
  • Video demonstrations
  • Assessment tools
  • Reminder emails
  • Lifetime curriculum and video updates
  • Access to online webinars
  • Certificates of completion
You can also upgrade to their Platinum Package, the best value, which is $137.00.


Each of the 260 lessons are professionally planned and provide about 30-45 minutes of physical activity. A list of equipment needed is included in each lesson along with the video demonstrations which allowed me to prepare for the lesson the night before. If I wanted to access the videos, I had to do so from my laptop because PDF  links are not clickable on my Kindle Fire but I loved having the lesson portability. Even though the activities are explained in detail, there were several that I just wasn't sure about, and the videos really came in handy! One of the other great things about this curriculum is that each lesson includes the Warm-Up, Cool Down, and other suggested outdoor activities as well as the main activity and it can be used for the entire family! It is a very well-rounded program and one that we actually enjoy!

The lessons require simple equipment such as bean bags, a jump rope, hula hoops, playground balls, foam balls, cones, a measuring tape, a stop watch, and an optional exercise mat. We already had many of these things on hand and some of the items can be substituted with alternatives. A one page summary is included at the end of each 20 lesson module which can be printed off and used as a guide for each lesson, rather than having to print out the entire 900+ pages of lesson plans. This does not replace the lesson, but it's great to have to take with you to the park or wherever you are going, without having to take your electronic device with you. I actually have the summary for the first 20 lessons in my purse! 

Even though the Core 1 curriculum is intended for K-8th grade and ages 5-13, my littlest one who is 2 was able to do many of the activities and had a blast being included. She especially loved the "frog squats" (and added her own little touch to the exercise by yelling RIBBIT when she would come to a standing position). She wasn't able to do the full 3 sets, but that's ok- neither was I! 

Here is a video clip of Mr. B (my 4 year old) doing his version of "Jump the River" from Lesson 1. 
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Many of the exercises are ones I remember from my own youth. I still laugh when I think about chasing my friends around the gym floor while doing the "Crab Walk" and who doesn't remember playing "Musical Statues"? These are some of my children's favorites as well.

As I am preparing for Lesson 11 (which we will be doing tomorrow), I see that the "Crab Walk" is once again part of the lesson! I'm thinking the lesson will have to be modified a bit since it will need to be done indoors as it's been raining here for the past couple of days and it will probably still be a nice muddy mess outside. Lesson 11 skills are mobility, balance, coordination, rhythm, flexibility, strength, agility, and running. I think most of those can be performed indoors except for the running (NO running in the house!) so we'll see how it goes. 

The Physical Fitness Assessment Tracking form is nice to have to see how my kid's skills have improved over time, but honestly I tend to forget about it. The printable calendars are not something I use much of either, as I already have a couple of other planners, lists, and programs that I use but I have used the Weekly Meal Planner and Grocery List printables. I think it's great that these additional nutritional tools are included and while I have yet to use the Nutrition Log, it's nice to know it is there if I need it!

Sign up for a FREE 2-day trial! You can also find Family Time Fitness on Facebook. 
If you have any questions about the curriculum, contact CustomerService@FamilyTimeFitness.com and they will be happy to help!








Smiley360 Pompeian OlivExtra® Premium Mediterranean Blend Review


My most recent Smiley360 Mission has been a very tasty one, for sure! Having received a full-sized bottle of Pompeian OlivExtra Premium Mediterranean Blend to review, I have been using it in place of my regular vegetable and olive oils when cooking and baking and the results have been delicious!

Pompeian OlivExtra Mediterranean Blend can be used when cooking anything from fish & other seafood, to meats, poultry, and vegetables. It is ideal for salads, sauteing, frying and baking and can even be used as a butter substitute! An added bonus is that it can be used with high heat cooking of up to 450 degrees!

The unique blend of Canola, Extra Virgin Olive, and Grapeseed oils means that OlivExtra Premium is made up mostly of "good" fats, essential omega-6 and omega-3, and Vitamin E.

When I was growing up, my mom mainly cooked with heavy vegetable oil or shortening. I didn't really start thinking of the health benefits of cooking with olive oils until about 7 years ago. Since then, I've tried many different brands and types of olive oils and the Pompeian brand has always been one of my favorites. I tend to lean towards the lighter tasting olive oils and I knew I had hit the jackpot with this Pompeian OlivExtra Premium Mediterranean Blend! It is absolutely wonderful!

My son, who is 12, frequently asks to make dinner for our family. He has a favorite Italian Chicken recipe that he likes to make that involves cooking cut up chicken breasts in oil, sauteing vegetables along with it, and adding Italian seasoning to it all. When he made this dish using the OlivExtra, I noticed a big difference in the overall taste and quality of the meal. The flavors were wonderfully enhanced & blended together and was a wonderful treat for our taste buds!

 
When I made spaghetti recently, I wanted some garlic bread to go along with it. A friend of mine had mentioned that she always uses English muffins when she makes hers, so I decided to give it a try. I'm hooked!


First, I took a pack of English muffins and split them in half. I then drizzled the OlivExtra over them all, sprinkled them with garlic salt, and a mixture of several cheeses and broiled them for a few minutes. They were awesome!

I haven't had a chance yet to make a vinaigrette with it, but as soon as I get some baby spinach, walnuts, craisins, and oranges, you can be sure that I'll be using the OlivExtra when I do! 

Be sure to 'Like" Pompeian OlivExtra Mediterranean Blend on Facebook for special offers, cooking tips, and recipes!


#NerfFireVision Sports



Thanks to the NERF FireVision Sports BzzCampaign, my family had a chance to try out the new FireVision Football

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This video isn't the greatest, by any means. It was too dark when I recorded my first video, and it wasn't dark enough in this one, but the guys had fun tossing the ball for a few. (Actually, I think my son had fun laughing at his dad for dropping the ball a lot too!)



Thanks to FireVision Microprism Technology, anyone wearing a pair of FireVision Frames will see an illuminated football in the daytime and in dim or low lighting. It glows red or green, depending which frames you are wearing. All in all, this is one pretty cool ball. I can see it being a favorite at family get-togethers but we would have to purchase more frames, for sure! 



The foam football is sized for kids ages 6 and up, but I think it could stand to be a bit softer for children that young. Two pairs of FireVision Frames are included with the foobtall, which has a suggested retail price of $19.99. Two frames not enough? Additional frames may be purchased for $5.99 (SRP). 

The NERF FireVision line also includes the Nerfoop and the Hyperbounce Ball. The FireVision line is available at stores nationwide and online at Amazon.com, Target.com, Walmart.com, and Toysrus.com just to name a few! 

Like NerfNation on Facebook for more fun!

Undecided About UNREAL


So, have you tried the new Unjunked UNREAL candies yet? I have, and I'm not really sure what I think about them. I LOVE the fact that all of the candy is made without corn syrup, no partially hydrogenated oils, no artificial ingredients, no GMO's, no preservatives, and has a low glycemic index! They are also made with real cane sugar and the dyes come from roots and vegetables. I think that is awesome! 
I found the colors of the 41 a bit weird (having been used to the much brighter colors of that other chocolate coated candy) and I didn't think it tasted that great. I have yet to try any of the others, but I do plan to. I'm thinking maybe my taste buds just aren't used to all that natural stuff and it will just take awhile to get used to. Hey, I'm all for taste-testing candy! 

Have you tried the new UNREAL? If so, what did you think about it? Which is your favorite? I'd love to hear from you!

They really have quite a following on FACEBOOK! Like them for fun facts and product information. 

DISCLOSURE:
I received a coupon for a FREE product from BzzAgent, to try  and to share my honest opinion. 

Marshall Publishing - "Lots & Lots of Penguins and Their Happy Feet" DVD Set Review


If you are a homeschooler, there is a good chance that you have seen the As Seen On TV  "Lots and Lots of" DVD's on the shelves of your local library. That is where I first became introduced to Marshall Publishing & Promotions, Inc. Not long after that, I was given the opportunity to review their  "Lots & Lots of Fire Trucks" DVD and book set. You can read that review here, but let me tell you, it was AWESOME! My son still enjoys watching the dvd and looking at the full-color book that came with it. The songs by award-winning musician James Coffey are catchy and kid pleasing (I've even gotten some of them stuck in my head)!

Remembering 9/11

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Remembering ALL of our heroes and their families! I will never forget!

A Few Photos Courtesy of Whimsy Hive!

The following are some of my favorite photographs taken by my daughter with her Sony Cybershot digital camera. I can't wait to see what she can do with a "real" camera!









I can't wait to see where this new found hobby takes her! 

A Reminder to Myself - No More Online Schools

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I am writing this post to serve as a future reminder to myself and to my daughter that virtual public schools do NOT work for her and that we will never (never, ever) enroll her in another one. 

After unschooling for the past 6 years, my daughter begged me to enroll her in an online school. We chose Ohio Connections Academy and over a very disastrous 3 weeks, we have come to realize that it just is not for her. It's not that she is lazy and just doesn't want to do the work. It's mainly that it is so structured that it doesn't allow for the creativity and free spirited learning that is my daughter's essence. 

Many would probably say that I should make her stick with it but, I know with all my being, that is not the right course for her. It was also a matter much prayed about! Even so, I have to say that I was surprised when God answered our prayers regarding an assessment that was needed to submit with my Letter of Intent to homeschool for the 2012-2013 school year. God is good!

We are looking forward to continuing our homeschooling journey together and can't wait to see all the places it will take us!

And, for the record, I don't dislike ALL online schools, ALL the time, for ALL children! My 12 year old twins are currently enrolled in 7th grade in OHVA and 8th grade in Ohio Connections Academy! It is what works for them! But, for my oldest, never again! (Whimsy Hive, consider it written in stone!)




#SoftScrub Total All Purpose Cleaner Review & Giveaway - Ends 9/20


As a PurexInsider, I get to be one of the first to try out new and awesome products. Most recently, I received the new Soft Scrub Total All-Purpose Cleaner with Bleach  and Soft Scrub Total Bath & Bowl.
For as far back as I can remember, Soft Scrub was a cleaning staple in my grandmother's house. I used to love helping her clean and I still remember how proud I was at how sparkling clean the sinks, tubs, and counter tops were after cleaning them with Soft Scrub. 
Over the years, I have used Soft Scrub on and off in my own household and I was looking forward to trying out the Soft Scrub Total cleaners. 
I started off using the Soft Scrub Total Bath & Bowl Cleaner in my bathroom. I was impressed with how easily it removed dirt and grime from my bathtub. The end result was a shiny, very clean tub! 
Bathtub before
Bathtub after
The shower walls were a different story due to the soap scum. I found that the Total Bath & Bowl cleaner left drip marks and even wiping it off after spraying (on foam setting or spray), the soap scum remained. I had to clean it with a scrub pad to remove all of the residue before it was as clean and shiny as the rest of the tub. 
I do love how it really is a "total" cleaner. I used it on my bathroom tile floor, the sink and faucet, and the toilet as well. Everything sparkled and the bathroom had a wonderful clean-smelling scent! Having a clean bathroom is important to me and with a family of 7, it's a constant job to keep it that way. The Soft Scrub Total Bath & Bowl makes the task easier with the ability to even spray upside down to get to those hard to reach places. 
I have used the Total All Purpose Cleaner with Bleach often in my kitchen and bathroom, with excellent results. As an asthmatic, I have trouble with many of the bleach cleansers due to the strong bleach fumes but I found this wasn't the case with this cleaner. I use it often and love it! Enter the giveaway below for a chance to win some and try it for yourself! 
Don't forget to like Soft Scrub on Facebook for great tips, savings, & more! 
*Enter the Soft Scrub Tough & Gentle Sweepstakes (hosted by Soft Scrub) for a chance to win a $1000 Grand Prize or one of fifty 2nd place $40 gift cards! (Clicking the above link will take you to the sweepstakes entry page.)
Enter below for a chance to win (3) GET ONE FREE coupons.

One winner will receive three (3) "GET ONE FREE" product coupons (maximum value $4.99 each) for any Soft Scrub Total, Soft Scrub Bleach Clean, or Soft Scrub abrasive product. Giveaway ends midnight EST on 9/20. Winner will be randomly chosen and will have 48 hours in which to respond before a new winner will be chosen. Open to U.S. only.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Covergirl & Olay Foundation and Pressed Powder #imabzzagent Review



As a BzzAgent, I frequently get to try new products and services for free and then share my honest opinions about those products with others, including some of the largest companies in the world! 

Most recently, I have been reviewing Covergirl & Olay's Tone Rehab 2-in-1 Foundation and the Covergirl & Olay Pressed Powder.  The Tone Rehab foundation is available in 14 shades. I chose 125- Buff Beige for review. I was worried that it would be a bit too dark for my skin tone, but it turns out to be the perfect shade for me. Previously, I had used mineral makeup and most recently was just using tinted moisturizer or not wearing any makeup at all. Suffering from Rosacea, I am uncomfortable with how red my cheeks are and my face also has a tendency to get a bit oily if I do wear liquid type foundations so I tend to avoid them. I was pleasantly surprised with the Tone Rehab 2-in-1 foundation. The pump dispenser gives you an equal amount of both foundation and serum, perfectly blended which allows for flawless application. It is light and airy and absorbs into the skin within a few seconds. The scent is slightly floral, but nothing overpowering and disappears as the foundation is absorbed.

The Covergirl & Olay Pressed Powder is available in 6 shades. I chose 320- Fair/Light. The powder really does instantly brighten skin tone and gave my face a softened look. It goes on smoothly and provides excellent coverage. Considering the cost of this powder (the cheapest I've seen it was around $10.50) I would have thought it would have included a better quality powder puff. I've also noticed that the top layer of the powder is starting to look a big "cakey" and I'm not sure why. 

The combined foundation and hydrating serum claims to cover fine lines & wrinkles and to help hydrate the skin to improve skin tone over time. Seeing as I am 42, I have noticed some fine lines creeping in. After using both the foundation and the powder for over 2 weeks now, I have noticed much improvement in my skin tone and texture! My Rosacea is still an issue but I have seen a slight decrease in the redness. On occasion, I still have a bit of trouble with my face getting oily but this tends to happen later in the day and it is no where near the problem that it is when I use regular cream or liquid foundations.

Overall, I am loving the Covergirl & Olay Tone Rehab 2-in-1 Foundation and Pressed Powder and I definitely plan on continuing to use it! One great thing, if you purchase the Tone Rehab 2-in-1 foundation and are not satisfied with the results, the company will refund your money! 

Thanks BzzAgent for this opportunity!



Banana Caramel Cupcakes & Chickens in the Road = Awesome!


I was searching the internet today for banana caramel cupcake recipes and boy did I hit the jackpot at Your Cup of Cake! This recipe includes a caramel infusion and a caramel buttercream frosting and is to die for! 

I have my eye on her Coconut Nutella cupcake recipe too and plan on trying them within the next week. I can't wait!

While making the banana caramel cupcakes, I realized (right in the middle of the recipe) that I needed a vanilla cake mix. Good old Murphy's Law. No cake mix in the pantry. So, once again I googled and made another awesome find - Chickens in the Road. This is where I found a recipe for homemade yellow cake mix and a slew of other wonderful sounding recipes and posts that I can't wait to read.


Have you stumbled across any awesome sites lately? I'd love for you to share them! 


Everyday Cooking - A #MollyCrew Review

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I am very excited to be writing my first review for the Molly Crew,  a part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew. 

The Crew reviewed one of two items from Everyday Homemaking: The Everyday Family Chore System and Everyday Cooking. 

I was blessed with the chance to review Everyday Cooking in pdf format which I transferred to my e-reader by emailing the file to my Kindle address. Since I'm not much on printing things out (I tend to lose things), I loved being able to access the cookbook this way. It was a breeze to flip through page after page and much more convenient to carry around than my laptop! 


Everyday Cooking, was written by Vicki Bentley- a (graduated) homeschooling mother of 8! The book is available in pdf format for $14.99 or in a coil bound 100 page cookbook with glossy cover for $17.99. It's pages contain a collection of "tried-and-true" recipes and hints for easy to make, everyday meals. You can preview Everyday Cooking here!

This review opportunity could not have come at a better time! Not only have our schedules been a bit too crazy for my comfort level (which has required some last minute meal ideas), but I have also been taking cooked meals to a friend here and there and needed some inspiration! When I made cheddar baked potato soup, the Cheese-Garlic Biscuits paired perfectly with it. I was in such a rush to deliver the food that I totally forgot to take a picture of them, but they turned out beautifully. The recipe called for a buttermilk baking mix but I was out of both store bought and homemade and didn't have time to make another batch of the latter. I did, however, have pancake mix on hand so I decided to give that a try. I'm not sure if pancake mix can normally be substituted when regular baking mix is called for, but in this instance it worked just fine. They baked up nice and fluffy and had a wonderful golden color. I should probably mention that they were delicious as well, especially after brushing the garlic butter on top of the still warm biscuits. I also made the "Do-Ahead Coffee Cake", but mine wasn't done ahead. The recipe calls for optional add-in's which I chose to omit since I wasn't quite sure if my friend and her family liked things like raisins, nuts, Craisins, or apples in their cakes. I doubled the amount of brown sugar that the recipe called for and omitted the honey because I was out of honey. (How can somebody who has 4 bee hives be OUT of honey? lol) Between the garlic and the cinnamon, we were in aroma heaven! The coffee cake was wonderful, and I think it might just be a new favorite recipe of mine! I made this recipe a second time with Splenda Nectresse and added Craisins and walnuts and it was a huge hit!




One of the things I really appreciate about Everyday Cooking, is that the recipes are not "set in stone", so to speak. I have probably altered every one that I have tried, only because I haven't always had the required ingredients on hand and I have had great success with them all. 

We have made the Italian Chicken and Rice twice. The first time, my 14 year old made it for our friends and it smelled so good that the kids asked for it for our supper as well. So, after dropping the first batch off, I stopped by the store for more chicken and then helped my 12 year old daughter make some for our family. The second time we made it, I actually cooked the rice in our rice cooker just to save time. (It was getting late and we were all STARVING!) We mainly only use Jasmine (sticky) rice so that is what we substituted for parboiled or brown rice and I forgot to get another can of diced tomatoes so we ended up drizzling pasta sauce and adding a small amount of water to the dish prior to baking. Once again, even with the substitutions, the end results were wonderful! 

I added a sprinkling of shredded mozzarella cheese on top! 

Due to a long, drawn out day today, I needed a quick meal idea. The "Chops in herbs and Wine" perfectly fit the bill. But, once again, substitutions were in order. I never have any type of wine whatsoever on hand, and I was also out of apple juice. My rosemary was nowhere to be found and the spicy brown mustard was purged the last time I cleaned the fridge. So, my pork chops were layered over Gala apples (not the tart ones called for) after a slight dusting of ground mustard Italian seasoning, and my "juice" consisted of watered down baby applesauce that for some reason I still have on hand. 


One of these days, I will make one of these dishes and follow the directions to a "t", but I love knowing that if I don't, the base recipe is so solid and easy that I don't have to worry about not having every single ingredient on hand. It has been a great learning opportunity for my daughters seeing what ingredient to use in place of another when you don't have everything that a recipe calls for. These recipes are easy to follow from start to finish and I love the variety included in this cookbook. Some of the dishes & desserts I had heard of and/or tried previously but it is wonderful to have them all on hand in one place. I do wish that there were more photos included in the book as I am a very visual person.

I don't use my pressure cooker often, but I do plan on digging it out of the closet (hmmmm

Bottom line? This is going to be one very well used cookbook! 

Have a question? Contact them by phone at: 540-678-8939 or email Vicki at:

You can find Everyday Homemaking on Facebook


Disclosure: